Monday, October 22, 2007

Introducing Guest Blogger: Paul Gowder

This is a new experiment, but I think it will be very fun, interesting--and full of the unexpected.

Please give a big Law and Letters welcome to Paul Gowder, whom some of you may recognize as a voracious commenter on various law blogs. He is a good guy, a most delightful conversational partner, and a big fan of my chicken soup.

But if you're interested in the mundane biographical details:

Paul Gowder did undergrad at a little state school in southern California, then infamously graduated from Harvard Law School in 2000 at an age that he describes as "embarrassing." Thereafter, he, spent a couple years doing legal aid in rural Eastern Oregon and a couple of years doing civil rights law for a "private" firm that's "basically a front operation for the ACLU" in Northern Virginia. In between, he spent a "dissolute and financially ruinous" year in New Orleans, hanging out with musicians and living in a youth hostel. Somewhere in there, he realized that he doesn't like discovery disputes and does like peer review. Accordingly, he stopped practicing law and started planning the leap to faith, a.k.a. to academia.

He's now in his second year in Stanford's political science Ph.D.program, where he does a combination of normative political theoryand occult math, with bounded rationality, institutional economics,and org theory spiced to taste. He also has side interests inphilosophy of science and neuroeconomics. His most interesting current project (which might or might not produce anything in print, N years down the line) involves attempting to vindicate a Millian sort of developmental perfectionism with hypothetical consent based on the counterfactual preferences of boundedly rational actors. (In English: "the state gets to make you learn, neutrality principle notwithstanding, because if you were fully rational you'd want it.") He recently discovered that teaching is not, as he feared it would be, an annoying distraction from research, but is instead great fun and inspiring. He describes his life as '"something between Fear and Trembling and Fear and Loathing."

Welcome, Paul!!!

Paul will be guest-blogging for the next month on "whatever the hell he wants."